633 publishing houses to take part in Muscat book fair

By: Mohammed Al Badi

MUSCAT: The Muscat International Book Fair 2015 will be opened on Wednesday under the auspices of His Highness Sayyid Haitham bin Tareq al Said, Minister of Heritage and Culture, said Dr Abdulmunim bin Mansour al Hasani, Minister of Information and Head of the Organising Committee for Muscat International Book Fair.

Addressing a press conference yesterday, the minister said: the fair includes two sections, the first one named Al Farahidi, is dedicated to Arab and foreign publishers who display Arabic books. Ahmed bin Majid section will be dedicated for publishing houses displaying foreign, Arab, children’s books and their associated events. The book fair which stretches over 7,848 houses, 872 pavilions in two sections, will have 44 publishing houses and bookshops from the Sultanate and other countries (24).

Compared with the previous year’s book fair which had seen 160,000 titles, this year’s exhibition will see 180,000. Visitors can acquaint themselves with the titles on the website of the Muscat International Book Fair 2015 prior to their visit.

“You can find books at bookshops, libraries, etc. But what makes the fair different is the cultural events. The organising committee has left the task to run the events to cultural institutions concerned in the Sultanate. It has only played a role in coordination and preparation of the halls for the cultural activities,” the minister added.

“This year sees a tide in the number of institutions participating in the cultural event. The first year saw 10 institutions at the exhibition. The following year had seen 15. The previous years’ participations pale in comparison to this year’s as over 20 Omani, Arab and foreign institutions are scheduled to attend,” the minister said.

Two large halls are allocated for the cultural programmes covering various themes in culture, literature, poetry, child literature, history, archives, philosophy, workshops on arts, theatre and novels. Book signing ceremonies have also been scheduled.

Coinciding with its 70th anniversary, the United Nations will take part in the events for the first time. Guests from the international organisations will be hosted to address its developing programmes and will deliver lectures in Arabic and English on the role of the United Nations as an international entity.
Among the cultural bodies from the Sultanate participating in the fair are Cultural Club, Omani Society for Writers and Literati, Omani Society for Theatre, Omani Society for Libraries and Information, Ministry of Education, National Records and Archives Authority, etc.

An offshoot of the Main Organising Committee headed by Dr Ali bin Saud Al Bimani Vice Chancellor of Sultan Qaboos University, will be concerned with the Cultural Social Initiative Award, which brings down the curtains on February 28, and makes first appearance at the book fair.

The award comes to highlight the efforts of Omani social initiatives encouraging reading and aims to raise awareness about reading and its role in the development of the society.

The winner of the excellent cultural social initiative will be awarded at the conclusion ceremony of the fair, Al Hasani said. The most prominent addition to this year’s event is the guest of honour. It has been a tradition for some book fairs worldwide to celebrate the guest of honour which could be a city, a person, etc. The guest of honour of this year is the Nizwa City; which has been chosen the Capital of Islamic culture 2015.

The book fair will also have an information centre to guide the vistors. In addition, a new bulletin on the book fair will be broadcast daily.

The minister have dismissed concerns regarding the ban on books, saying that the book fair will be an oasis of freedom which accommodates all cultural and intellectual spectra. He also denied rumours that the ministry has put certain books on ban list.

“Thought is rebuked by thought as long there is no prejudice to the basis and no judiciary ruling, the ministry has no issue whatsoever it is in this regard, the ministers said.

“The Muscat International Book Fair is meant to be an intellectual oasis for intellects, literati and artists. It is not an occasion to ban and if there is any prejudices to the basis, the organising committee is committed to the judicial rulings. Issues pertaining to the publishing houses violating regulations set by the organising committee have also been cleared.

Yusuf Al Balushi, Director of the Oman International Book Fair, said that the violating house would receive notices of warning. Upon repeat of the violation, the participant would be suspended for a day and if the act continued, the house could face a suspension for two years from participating in the book fair.

The fair will be open from 10.00 am to 10,00 pm straight except for Friday which will be from 4.00 pm to 10,00 pm. Thursday February 26, Monday and Wednesday March 2 and 4 will be dedicated for students only from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon. Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday March 1, 3 and 5 will be dedicated for woman and female students from 10.00 am to 12.00 noon.


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